Health and safety at work regulations

The Health and Safety Commission is responsible for health and safety regulation in Great Britain. The Health and Safety Executive and local government are the enforcing authorities who work in support of the Commission.

The principal statute regulating standards of health and safety at work is the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act 1974 (the 1974 Act). Numerous subordinate statutory instruments provide detailed specialist regulatory measures. The 1974 Act places a statutory duty on local authorities to enforce the relevant statutory instruments in relation to classes of business determined from time to time and defined by statutory instrument. The Enforcing Authority Regulations 1998 define the classes of activity which come under local authority enforcement and those which fall to enforcement by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The Health and Safety Commission (HSC) oversees the enforcement of health and safety measures across the UK and advises government on policy issues.

The aim of the Occupational Health and Safety Enforcement Service within Aberdeen City Council is to contribute to the maintenance and improvement of standards of occupational health and safety arising from work activities in the city, with a consequential reduction of the risks associated with those work activities. Information is available in the Health & safety Enforcement Policy

Statutory duties for safe system of work controls apply to both employees and to the public who may be affected by work activities (for example customers and passers by).

As an Enforcing Authority, the authority has a responsibility for the provision of health and safety enforcement services covering a range of businesses, mainly within the service sector, covering approximately 3,900 premises. The types of businesses involved in health and safety enforcement include the following:

  • retail
  • wholesale
  • offices
  • catering
  • hotels
  • residential care homes
  • leisure and consumer services eg. launderettes, hairdressers, undertakers, shoe repair, tyre and exhaust fitters and churches.

The principal responsibility is the inspection and audit of these premises, however there is also a responsibility to investigate complaints relating to safety, occupational health and welfare at these workplaces, and any reported accidents arising in the course of work activities at these premises.

The service also receives notifications of work involving asbestos in terms of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002.

The Civic Government [Scotland] Act 1982 [Licensing of Skin Piercing and Tattooing] Order 2006, which requires the following activities, carried out as a business, to be licensed with the local authority:

  • Acupuncture
  • Cosmetic body piercing
  • Electrolysis
  • Tattooing

The Health and Safety Executive website gives useful information including industry guidance, free leaflets and research reports on health and safety.

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